The Minnesota Twins are said by sources to be considering a run at one of the big free-agent starters available after their amazing success story last year.
They are thought to be considering even the very top guys – Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb – as they look to improve off their surprising 2016 playoff team. Twins ownership is said to have big faith in the new management team of president Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine, and is strongly weighing whether to make a big investment in a team that features a very strong offense and a particularly impressive core of young position players.
The Twins are not a small-market team but have generally targeted mid-range arms in recent years, importing Ervin Santana (their current ace and the starter in their losing wild-card gamevs. the Yankees), Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco. But now there are signs they are at least dabbling at the highest end of this market.
Whether they will actually pull the trigger on one of the big two remains to be seen. They know they need to add a starter of some sort, and probably two bullpen pieces – including a closer – so they are weighing the better relievers, as well.
Wade Davis and Greg Holland top the bullpen market, but that’s a deep one, and they should be able to find help there. Their second-half closer, Matt Belisle, is a free agent, and they liked him very much, but there are a lot of pen arms to consider.
The Twins stunned baseball with their 85-win season last year, and extremely strong second half, when they ran off with a playoff spot that had been contested by a half-dozen teams, even after a small selloff at the trade deadline, which included deals where they traded starter Jaime Garcia (after first acquiring him) and closer Brandon Kintzler.
Darvish and Arrieta are the clear top-two starters on the market, and both pitchers are expected to get nine-figure deals. Minnesota hasn’t factored into the Japanese market in the past, but with Levine, a high-ranking executive with the Rangers when they signed Darvish, perhaps that could change now. Darvish and Arrieta, of course, could still prove to be out of their price range, but Lynn and Cobb, who make up a strong but small second tier, would also be big upgrades for them.
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